The tomato vine…the Maltese Falcon…the process…

Desk

A check-in is long overdue! Summer, recently filled with eerie orange skies and hot nights, devastating California fires and Texas floods, a personal call to action and unanticipated foray into gardening, lots of exercising and even more revising, is (thank goodness!) almost over. But before the bluebird flies and my favorite season arrives, what news do I have for you…?

IMG_9161First, in very old news, I’m trying a new creative experiment: associating specific creative ideas & projects with specific scents. The goal…? Twofold. First, I often can’t sit down and write when I’d like to…namely, mornings, when instead I’m heading off to work. And when I do have time to write, I don’t feel like it. So just maybe, in those moments, if the story had a certain scent…like yummy vanilla sugar…and I took a deep inhale, the urge to write might be rekindled. Second, I’d like to successfully work on more than one project. It’s not always easy to shift between worlds and characters, so I thought perhaps if I had a trigger…tomato vine for this mystery, coffee for that short story, etc…I might be able to jump in and out of multiple worlds more easily. As I say, it’s an experiment…so I’ll keep you posted.

Second, in not-quite-as-old news, as you can see from my new favorite glass above, I recently went on a walking tour of Dashiell Hammett’s San Francisco, organized by the Northern California Sisters in Crime and conducted by Don Herron, who’s been leading these tours for 40 years…since the year I was born! Don describes the nature of the tour best on his website:

Shadow Sam Spade in his quest for the fabulous figurine of a mysterious black bird. Prowl the back alleys where the Continental Op, Hammett’s longest-running detective, faced down the opposition over the barrel of his blazing .38. Follow Hammett himself as he works for the Pinkerton Detective Agency on the infamous Fatty Arbuckle case. See the spot where Spade’s partner, Miles Archer, with a smile on his mug and his pistol buttoned away under his overcoat, met swift death in the night-fog.

It’s always a joy to see a familiar place in a new way…and I certainly saw San Francisco cast in thrilling, noir shadows that revealed places and things I’d never noticed but passed by many times. Just a few photos of some of my favorite parts…

 

(And if you don’t know who Dashiell Hammett or Sam Spade are, or what the Maltese Falcon is…get thee to a bookstore now!)

Lastly, the latest news. I’ve remembered to enjoy the process! I owe this reminder to my husband…photographer, musician, and all around creative-being-extradonaire! I watch him spend hours at his arts…chasing tone, crafting songs, creating images…for the mere pleasure of it. The joy and energy he radiates after spending an evening on one guitar lick or one portrait should be bottled up and prescribed to overwrought, cynical artists of all types. Being around him has reminded me that if you’re not having fun doing what you’re doing, then you’re either missing the point or aren’t doing what you really love. (That said, I’ve also observed that by following his bliss he has courted success and opportunity…new band mates, music gigs, photography assignments…proving Julia Cameron’s point that the Universe loves happy artists and wants to help them!)

And that’s it for this summer. I’ll leave you in the pub with a cold beer listening to my inspiring husband…

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Woosh! The curtains open…

I’m here! I’m here! *waving from the front windows*

I know, it’s been too long! I’ve just been in a little funk. The kind of funk where you eat too many donuts and drink too much coffee, abandon exercise altogether, and can’t properly get started on a writing project even when your sanity depends on it. (All you writers out there, is there such a thing as post-first-submissions-blues…?) And I *moved* into this beautiful new virtual space, had an *open house*, then proceeded to close all the curtains and wander around aimlessly! (All you bloggers out there, is it possible to have bloggers’ block…?)

But I’m back! And I can report the following good news—I have joined Mystery Writers of America, I am signed up for a Sisters-in-Crime writers conference in San Francisco next month, I will be guest lecturing again this fall, and I’m working diligently through Julia Cameron’s “The Artist Way.” Not only that, but school has started, so the college is buzzing with contagious energy, and the first leaves have started to fall, marking the approach of my favorite season. And even though I’ve been in a funk, I haven’t been completely idle. I’ve been working on getting my new home office set-up, completed two cross-stitch projects, traveled to Washington State to visit family, and started translating my grandmother’s cookbook with my father.

“How are the submissions going?” you ask.

In the month and a half since I sent out my first eight submissions, I’ve had two rejections, two non-responses, and am still waiting to hear back from four agents who note longer response times. I’ll admit there was a crisis of faith when I wasn’t instantly offered a deal…honestly, who doesn’t fantasize it’ll happen with the first response?!…but I have regrouped, read all those articles about famous authors being rejected dozens of times before acceptance to soothe my ego, and am actually excited about the next batch of submissions I’m preparing now.

“And how are you getting out of this funk?” you ask next.

Posting this is certainly a step in the right direction! Another must, is getting up early in the mornings to write and exercise, like I did this morning. I have learned that if I don’t, I’m a complete mess the rest of the day. And finally, just reminding myself that I am a writer, showing up to the life I want, and leaving the rest to God and the universe.